Ottoman detective drama treading new path in Turkey
KOCAELİ – Anadolu Agency“Filinta,” a pioneering Turkish detective TV drama which is being shot in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, is attracting a following at home and beginning to win new fans further afield, such as the Middle East.
A Hollywood-style high-budget production with action scenes, “Filinta” is the “first Ottoman detective show” in Turkish television’s history. The drama is being shot at the Seka film set, where copies of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu, İstiklal Avenue and Pera area have been created.
The producer of the drama, Serdar Öğretici, said they were shooting an Ottoman detective drama for the first time in the history of television, adding that the cost was high when compared to other TV dramas.
He said they knew the risks of undertaking such a project, while adding that good things could not be done without taking risks. “TRT [Turkish state television] trusted me and supported such a project. We started to produce a different and international project. So far, so good. It was an adventurous job and we succeeded at it.”
Ratings exceeding expectations
The drama has posted higher-than-expected ratings, as well as favorable reviews, Öğretici said, adding that the series needed to be watched from start to finish in order to understand all the events.
Talks are continuing for the drama to be sold abroad, he said. “We did not think of Turkey only, as we planned an international-level work. This is why preparations took more than a year. We have received very good reactions from abroad. It was partially sold in some regions. Currently, it is receiving higher demand from the Middle East. A fair will be held in France in April; we will participate in it. We will work [to sell it] to Europe, South America and maybe the United States in the fair. We have already received demand.”
Öğretici said they planned 100 episodes for “Filinta,” noting that they would end the present season after the 26th episode. “It will have its finale in the third season.”
He said guest stars joined the drama in every episode. “[German actress] Wilma Elles has joined. Normally, she was set to leave, but she was liked, and we have decided to keep her. We have new surprise artists; we love surprises.”
Öğretici said the drama was set between the years 1850 and 1900. “We designed the décor of that era. We have many inner and outer venues because detective films need lots of venues. Each episode focuses on a different event and has a different story. This is why there was a need to build such a big place. ‘Filinta’ is a high-cost production when compared to ordinary TV dramas. Its décor, costumes, scripts and action scenes increased the cost.”
The producer also said the actors on the show were working in harmony. “Everyone is happy. We make a cinema film almost every six days. Working conditions are hard. But everyone is happy when the result is good.”
One of the leading characters, Onur Tuna, who plays the character Filinta, said he had learned a lot from his friends who have spent 20-30 years in theater.
At the same time, he said he did not consider himself the lead actor but a part of a whole.
“I conducted more research after landing this role. I learned many things about the Ottomans,” he said. “It is not a challenge for me to play in a costume drama because humans are humans everywhere. The mafia and their monetary relations, port trade, smuggling, robbery and murders are crimes committed everywhere in the world. Since we are shooting a detective story, we present today’s crimes to the audience in an Ottoman setting.”
Tuna has been likened to famous Turkish actors Kıvan Tatlıtuğ and Kenan İmirzalıoğlu on social media, although the actor said he was not looking to fill anyone’s shoes.
“These people have become a part of many projects in Turkey. At the beginning of my career, it is very pleasing to be compared to such big Turkish actors. I don’t think this is about physically resembling someone,” said the actor.
He said he had been acting in the drama since July 6 last year. “I have spent a lot of time on it. I have Mustafa on my mind all the time. We spend 15-16 hours a day filming.”
German spy Wilma Elles
Elles, who is known to Turkish audiences as Caroline in the TV drama “Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki” (As Time Goes By), is a spy named Anita in “Filinta.”
She said it was very exciting to act in a historical drama. “It is a very big production. It is shot like a cinema film. We are completely in an Ottoman life. I did some research on the Ottoman era.”
Elles said she was the daughter of a German emperor and a spy for the show.
“I have received many projects. I am happy to reject them. This is an incredible character. Each episode has a different story. This is why the drama is very exciting,” she said.
Another character in the drama is War Minister Esad Paşa, played by Yosi Mizrahi. He said he had been acting professionally for 22 years but that “Filinta” was his first role in a historical drama.
“Esad Paşa is the poor son of Eşekçi Sermet. He escapes from poverty by joining the army and becomes very successful. He is a passionate and ambitious person, who has no pity. His goal is to become grand vizier. Viewers love Esad Paşa a lot. We see it on social media. I hope this role will continue,” he said, adding that the show had a good working atmosphere.
The shooting of the action scenes is conducted by second unit expert Dusan Hyska, who has been the second unit expert of many Hollywood productions including “Titanic,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Spider Man.”
The makeup artist of the drama is David Craig Forest, who has worked on films like “Lorenzo’s Oil,” Charlie’s Angels,” “Basic Instinct” and “Jaws 3.” Some scenes have also been shot by famous U.S. director and producers Bobby Roth of the TV series “Lost” and “Prison Break.”